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Tunisia synagogue taking pictures: Gunman kills 3 amid Jewish pilgrimage

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A taking pictures assault by a naval guardsman Tuesday left 5 individuals useless on Tunisia’s island of Djerba amid a Jewish pilgrimage that yearly attracts lots of to the location, the Tunisian authorities stated.

The gunman, who was affiliated with the Nationwide Guard naval heart within the island’s port city of Aghir, killed a colleague earlier than making an attempt to enter the historic Ghriba synagogue and taking pictures indiscriminately at safety items stationed there, in accordance with the Inside Ministry. Safety officers killed the shooter earlier than he reached the temple, the ministry stated.

5 safety brokers and 4 guests had been additionally injured within the assault. One of many safety brokers died of his accidents on Wednesday, Tunisian media reported.

These slain included two guests, a 30-year-old Tunisian and a 42-year-old French nationwide, and three safety officers, in accordance with statements from the Tunisian Overseas Ministry. The ministry stated Wednesday that the guests killed had been Jewish pilgrims.

Former tourism minister René Trabelsi, a outstanding member of the Tunisian Jewish group who was on the synagogue on the time of the assault, instructed Tunisian radio that the slain guests had been Aviel Haddad and his French Tunisian cousin Benjamin Haddad, who had traveled from his house in Marseille, France, for the spiritual occasion. Aviel Haddad additionally held Israeli citizenship, Israeli media reported.

Aviel Haddad’s sister, Rona, instructed Israeli radio the household had immigrated to Israel from Tunisia, the Associated Press reported. Her brother, who was a jeweler, typically visited Djerba.

Israeli Overseas Minister Eli Cohen spoke with the chief rabbi of Tunis, Haim Bitan, to precise Israel’s solidarity with the Jewish group in Tunisia and supply help, in accordance with the AP. Tunisia and Israel would not have formal diplomatic relations.

Benjamin Haddad was a bakery proprietor, father of 4 and energetic member of the Jewish group in Marseille, Fabienne Bendayan, president of the Marseille regional chapter of the Consultant Council of Jewish Establishments of France, stated in a press release Wednesday.

Yearly, Jewish worshipers journey to Djerba, house to one of many largest Jewish communities within the Arab world. The island can be house to the two,500-year-old Ghriba synagogue — Africa’s oldest.

Movies posted to social media, which The Washington Publish was unable to confirm, present chaotic scenes contained in the synagogue because the assault unfolded exterior.

Authorities didn’t establish the shooter or specify a motive. The Inside Ministry stated Tuesday it was investigating “the explanations for this treacherous and cowardly assault.”

Fethi Bakkouche, a spokesman for the regional courtroom, instructed Agence France-Presse {that a} preliminary legal investigation was opened.

In a press release Wednesday, the Tunisian Overseas Ministry expressed its condolences to households of the victims of the “cowardly assault.”

“This assault on harmless individuals will solely strengthen the unity of the nation and its dedication to proceed its relentless resistance to all types of crime and to defeat these behind it,” the assertion stated.

President Kais Saied convened a gathering of his nationwide safety council on Wednesday to debate the taking pictures, for which he blamed “criminals” looking for to destabilize Tunisian society and disrupt tourism. He didn’t point out antisemitism or describe the taking pictures as terrorism — regardless that the more and more authoritarian chief has earlier than described political opponents as terrorists, with out proof.

“I wish to take this event additionally to reassure the Tunisian individuals and the entire world that Tunisia will stay secure,” he said in introductory remarks revealed on the presidency’s Fb web page.

Saied supplied condolences to the households of these killed and wished the injured a full restoration.

Condolences and condemnation poured in from French officers, and the French Embassy opened a “disaster cell” Tuesday evening to answer the assault. The French Overseas Ministry decried the “odious act” in a statement Wednesday.

“We stand alongside Tunisia to proceed the struggle in opposition to antisemitism and all types of fanaticism,” the ministry stated.

U.S. State Division spokesman Matthew Miller condemned the assault Tuesday evening in a statement on Twitter and praised the swift intervention of Tunisian safety forces.

Deborah Lipstadt, the U.S. envoy to observe and fight antisemitism, wrote Wednesday on Twitter: “I’m sickened and heartbroken by the deadly, antisemitic assault concentrating on the Ghriba synagogue in Djerba in the course of the Lag B’Omer celebrations, with hundreds of Jewish pilgrims in attendance.”

Lipstadt, together with Joey Hood, U.S. ambassador to Tunisia, had visited the synagogue the day earlier than to open the pilgrimage celebration, in accordance with a tweet by the U.S. Embassy in Tunis, the nation’s capital.

“This instance of coexistence in Tunisia reinforces our shared dedication to multiculturalism and the safety of spiritual freedom,” the U.S. Embassy wrote.

Tuesday’s taking pictures was the primary main assault within the North African nation since 2020, when a suicide blast exterior the U.S. Embassy in Tunis killed a safety officer.

The assault comes as Tunisia is going through a significant financial disaster, and it may auger hassle for the nation’s tourism sector, a pillar of the financial system. Tourism Minister Mohamed Moez Belhassine sought Wednesday to reassure guests that the nation was secure and that scheduled flights to Tunisia would proceed as regular, state news agency TAP reported.

The Ghriba synagogue has been focused earlier than, in April 2002, when an attacker linked to al-Qaeda killed 21 individuals, largely German vacationers, by detonating a truck crammed with explosives. The synagogue has since tightened safety.



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